The Leadership Vacuum

My personal trainer, Rico, is also a drummer. He told me a story about being invited to play with a group of musicians who were more talented than he was. Being a little nervous to play with these musicians, he made the mistake a drummer can’t afford to make: He followed instead of led. Shortly into their first song, the lead guitar player stopped playing and waved off the other musicians, who stopped also. Then he turned to Rico sitting behind his drum set and yelled, “Hey, Rico, you’re the drummer! You’re supposed to be driving this train, not riding it!”
What about you? When it comes to your client relationships, are you riding the train or are you driving it? When dealing with financially successful people, you can’t afford to make the mistake of following when they need to be led.
Leadership is not being commoditized. The price of the products may continue to decrease, but the incomes of CEOs continue to rise? Why? Leadership is valuable, and rare.
It would be a mistake to think you can effectively do both the technical work AND be the leader. That’s like the CEO of a car company also working in the factory. She should visit the factory, but she can’t be the leader and work on the assembly line. The orchestra conductor can’t play the violin and lead the other musicians. The coach can’t also be the quarterback. Even if you were smart enough and capable enough to do all these jobs, there simply isn’t enough time. Leadership is a full-time job.
There are a few powerful words and explanations that can help the Financial Adviser leader communicate with prospects and clients about the value of having a leader rather than dealing directly with technicians.
Coordinate: “Currently, the various technical experts do not have an impartial leader holding them accountable to perform at the highest levels possible. They are NOT working together with synergy and harmony for your benefit. In fact, many experts do not even know others exist and are forced to do their work without any visibility to the important information in the possession of another technician. Your life will be much better when your technical experts are being coordinated through a collaborative process that has better yields. I can provide the leadership to coordinate these technicians for you and your family’s benefit. How does that sound to you?”
Consolidate: “You have many more accounts, institutions and products than are necessary to achieve your goals and have diversification. The reason is that the various technicians you currently do business with don’t do this kind of work. Your life will be much better when all of your affairs are as consolidated as possible. I can provide the leadership to achieve this consolidation. Would you like to get this done?”
Comprehensive: “To put it politely, there are holes in your house that you could drive a truck through. It’s simply by luck and the grace of God that an event hasn’t happened that turns one of these holes into a big problem. The reason for this is that you have a variety of technicians doing bits and pieces, but nobody with a comprehensive checklist to make sure that virtually everything necessary to get your entire house in perfect order gets done. Your life and business will be much better and safer when you experience truly comprehensive services. I can provide the leadership to get your entire house in perfect order and help you keep it that way forever.
Simplify: “By having one trained professional as the leader of your team coordinating the comprehensive and consolidated organization of your affairs, your life will be much, much simpler. This means that you can focus your physical time and mental energy on things that are more important to you and bring more meaning to your life. If anything happens to you, you know the people you care about most won’t be stressed out or frustrated dealing with your technical experts and trying to figure out your unique way of handling your affairs. When I am done simplifying your life, even the most uninterested person in your family will be able to understand and appreciate your. I can provide the leadership to achieve this simplification. What do you think about the idea of simplifying your life?”
Accountability: “We hold the technical experts accountable to give you the best advice necessary to get and keep your entire house in order. We hold you accountable to do your part. One of the problems is that you’re driving the train. Because you have so much money and by the nature of your personality, you’re technical experts are following you instead of leading you. This could be because they don’t really know how to lead or they could just be afraid that if they exert leadership that you will take your business elsewhere. Whatever the case, it’s not working. The technical experts need to be held accountable to do their work at a very high level and you need to be accountable to implement their advice. What’s missing in your life is a leader who can make this happen. Are you ready for a leader to hold you and your team accountable?”
It’s very common for people we are training to be the leader described in this article to say something like, “But you don’t understand, James, I have some very successful, type-A, driver personality clients and they are not going to be ‘led.’” I know exactly what you mean and why you feel that way. What’s happening is what I call a “leadership vacuum.” A leadership vacuum occurs when one person in the relationship behaves in a wishy-washy or ambiguous way and the other person, sensing this, steps into the leadership vacuum created by that other person’s wishy-washiness. They step into the leadership vacuum even in areas where they are not actually qualified because they are leaders. It’s their nature. It’s also the nature of every leader to be a good follower, but only when the other leader is really leading. The big question here is, “How could there be a leadership vacuum in your office on your turf where you are the expert?”
The short answer is that you can’t ever allow there to be a leadership vacuum for a client to step into. I’m not talking about control. I’m talking about leadership.
So, why are there so many technicians and so few leaders? It’s just the nature of our world. When you entered the business, you were taught the technical work. You probably worked hard to get some designations and you take pride in your technical skills. Nobody told you that someday your technical ability was going to progressively diminish in value and that your leadership skills would become your most important asset. You were probably not even offered leadership training that could be applied to serving your clients and running your business. The bottom line is that leadership is a choice. You can choose to remain a technician or you can choose to be a leader.
The recipe I have described here, leading a team of best-in-class technical subject matter experts who are coordinated, comprehensive, held accountable to a high standard where everything in a client’s life is consolidated and simplified will help you rescue the most successful clients.

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